World marathon record for Kipsang

With 2:03:23, Kenyan Wilson Kipsang takes 15 seconds off old mark at BMW Berlin Marathon

Wilson Kipsang Berlin WR (Jiro Mochizuki & JP Durand)

Finishing more like a miler than a marathon runner at the end of 26.2 miles, Wilson Kipsang sliced 15 seconds off Patrick Makau’s world record as he clocked 2:03:23 in Berlin.

The 31-year-old Kenyan showed few signs of fatigue in the closing stages as he scorched to the first athletics world record of 2013.

It was also the ninth world record in the 40-year history of the Berlin Marathon. With crisp, sunny and wind-less weather, plus long smooth roads with little camber, the German capital is home to a remarkably fast course and Kipsang made the most of it on Sunday.

Paced through halfway in 61:32, he was 34 seconds ahead of Makau’s world record of 2:03:38, which was similarly set in Berlin in 2011. At this point, Kipsang had fellow Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kipsang for company, plus the pacemakers, but by 30km the group had drifted 25 seconds outside Makau’s mark with 1:28:03.

Two years ago, Makau was involved in a battle with Haile Gebrselassie, with the Ethiopian dropping out just after 27km as Makau surged ahead. Here, Kipsang was also in a competitive race with his namesake Kipsang and Kipchoge – the 2003 world 5000m champion who won the Hamburg Marathon earlier this year in 2:05:30.

Kipsang’s credentials are superb, though. After winning the 2012 Virgin London Marathon in 2:04:44, he was favourite to take Olympic gold but finished third in the London Games. Further disappointment came in London in April this year when he was only fifth, but he came into Berlin with the world record firmly in his sights.

So when the pace slowed after halfway, he realised he was losing the chance to break the record and as the final pacemaker peeled away he began to do more of the work.

Surging into a drinks station, he stole a small lead on Kipchoge, as Geoffrey Kipsang also began to struggle. Kipchoge gamely tried to hold on to the leader but from 35km onwards Kipsang got daylight on his rival and pressed on alone to the finish.

With 3km to go Kipsang was exactly back on track with Makau’s world record pace and the record attempt was on. Few expected Kipsang to finish quite so strongly, though, as he tore through the last couple of miles.

From 30km to the finish, he covered the course 38 seconds quicker than Makau did in 2011. Yet for viewing spectators this was a marathon record attempt that went down to the wire, because with one kilometre to go he was still only two seconds inside record pace before raising his pace to eventually smash Makau’s mark by 15 seconds.

It was another small step for mankind in the quest to break two hours for the marathon and one wonders if any more improvements will be made either this autumn or during the spring marathon season next year.

With knees raised high and arms pumping like a middle-distance runner, the tall Kipsang was an impressive sight as he blasted to the finish at the Brandenburg Gate.  ”I was feeling strong so I decided to push,” said Kipsang. “I’m very happy I’ve won and at breaking the world record.”

Kipsang added he can go faster. “If I prepare very well and with the same shape. Today there was a lot of wind, I was really fighting,” he said.

The only downside was an idiot gatecrasher wearing a t-shirt promoting a sleazy website who jumped on to the course at the finish, breasting the tape a metre or so ahead of the Kenyan. Stealing Kipsang’s glory, not to mention ruining hundreds of finish-line pictures, organisers should stick him in a room full of angry photographers for an hour as punishment.

Hanging on bravely in second, Kipchoge was rewarded with a big personal best of 2:04:05, while Geoffrey Kipsang wound up third with 2:06:26. Further behind, Rui Silva of Portugal, the 2004 Olympic 1500m bronze medallist, was first European in ninth with 2:12:16.

There was no joy for Scott Overall, though. The 30-year-old Briton, who had impressed with a 2:10:55 debut in Berlin in 2011, was forced to drop out with a calf problem before halfway.

The women’s race was not quite so dramatic as Florence Kiplagat clocked 2:21:13 to beat fellow Kenyan Sharon Cherop by 75 seconds. In third, meanwhile, 41-year-old Irina Mikitenko of Germany – a former winner of the Berlin and London marathons – took almost a minute off the world masters marathon record with 2:24:24.

» More coverage in the October 3 issue of Athletics Weekly

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